REGARDING the angst over the timing or even the happening of indyref2, we have agonised over various groups who voted No – pensioners, EU citizens, other Brits (sadly we seem to have written off this last group entirely) – and agonised over getting every conceivable currency/economy question right. But we won’t win indyref 2 by giving people the “right” answers. We need coherent economic answers for the questions we faced last time, but we need more than that.

The economy is not just about which currency we use. It is about the policies we will have to support Scotland’s main earners, our industries like tourism, food and drink, oil, renewables, financials. We also need to disentangle ourselves from the “Independence in Europe” slogan at least for now, take Brexit and then have a discussion about a European way forward which will suit Scotland, be that the EEA/EFTA, full EU membership, or the one leading to the other in time.

Why we lost indyref1 was summed up for me by a person who claimed to want Scottish independence “just not yet”. When I pointed out that an independent Scotland would probably have permanent centre-left governments (I believe), she said that was why people had voted No. So from the horse’s mouth it was because the better-off feared how they would fare under independence, and did not care enough about the poor to risk their financial status even a bit. The recent grumbling over modest tax increases has confirmed my view that the haves are, I am afraid to say, largely selfish.

The two big problems we face are persuading the well-off that independence is for them, even if our social policies cost them a bit more, and making all of us think of Scotland as a nation in its own right rather than a region. Regarding the better-off, we need to keep pounding home that Scotland is more than oil. We are a diverse economy with tourism, food and drink, oil, renewables, and financials. We need to keep pointing out how much better off we already are compared with the rUK in terms of “benefits in kind” like free prescriptions, a still national and still free NHS, free higher education, free personal care, bus passes, energy help, social housing programmes and attempts to curb outrageous rents, and a humane social security system in the making which will not demonise the poor.

It’s no good adopting right-wing policies so as not to scare the horses. We have to be upfront about being a social democratic country with policies that cost, but that it benefits all of us in the long run, even the well-off.

As for believing in Scotland as a nation, we hear a great deal in the public domain about British history (311 years of it) but little about Scotland’s much older nation. I have seen Unionists take The National’s great Scottish history pieces and bin them out of spite, especially the one about Darien, which to me is one of the pivotal historical reasons why Scotland needs independence. It’s hard to counter that. They have had 311 years of practice with a couple of dozen wars thrown in to make us proud to be Brits, we’ve only had four!

We already have a mandate NOW for indyref 2, even a triple mandate. Why would people vote SNP in 2021 to give us another mandate if we did not use the first one? And the bigger risk is losing the pro-indy majority at Holyrood, which would really put off another referendum for generations. We are desperate not to lose again, but if we do not hold indyref 2 we have already lost. And the idea of getting support to 60 per cent BEFORE calling it AND holding it at 60 per cent for six months, as suggested by Jim Sillars, is completely unrealistic. Why would support surge if we are not campaigning? Doing the day job extremely well is not going to win indyref2. We’re not going to drift along and hey, presto, we wake up one day independent. It will be a slog. Before indyref1 independence was just a dream, but the referendum crystallised people’s thinking, made them actually put up or shut up. We suddenly believed all things were possible and grabbed it. We still have that optimism of the country Scotland could be, and we need to push forward.

I have great respect and admiration for Nicola Sturgeon, but I think hesitancy now is mistaken. It would be better for her to be the First Minister who held another indyref and lost than the one who never held another referendum for fear of losing. We need to move sooner rather than later. If we leave it much later than summer/autumn next year, we will lose the chance. And next time don’t give the British state another two-and-a-half years to asset-strip Scotland before Independence Day!

Julia Pannell